One Foot in Front of the Other


I'm sitting on my bed, drinking tea. I came up here to write for one hour, as I've been trying to do for almost two weeks now, every day. Some days, it's easy. I can't wait to get here, pouring out the words to a new poem or working one in progress like a jigsaw puzzle. Some days, like today, I get here feeling uninspired and with a whining voice in the back of my mind. I don't feel like it, the voice says. Just skip today. And I guess these are the days that are most important to push through.

I used to believe that I could write only when the mood struck, when inspiration hit. I believed that if I just waited patiently in between those bursts, another idea would come eventually. Now, I understand that the real work of creating comes between those (rare, precious) bursts of true creative inspiration. The real work of creating is just showing up, day after day, sometimes kicking and screaming.

As I sit here musing over this aspect of the creative life, it occurs to me that parenting is much the same. Most mornings, I wake up feeling unrested. I open my eyes and I think "already I have to get up with these kids? Didn't we just go to sleep?" I expect to get out of bed with the ache in my lower back and pelvis and thighs and feet having been soothed by sleep, only to find the ache is still there. It's a constant in my life. I change diapers, I get the kids breakfast, I refresh my Facebook feed, bleary eyed.  I nurse the baby. The sun comes up, the boys start to get wild and I know I need to engage, I need to get us all outside. But the ache. The tired. I just want to sit, and rock in the rocking chair, and close my eyes. But doing that is always so much harder than pushing myself to get up and get us all dressed and out the door for an hour. And eating junk convenience food for dinner always feels so much worse in the end than actually prepping and cooking a real meal.

Every day of this parenting gig I feel like I do the impossible. I wonder how the hell I can possibly get through another day, but then I just do. I'm sure most parents, moms of more than one child in particular, are familiar with the question: "How do you do it all?" I don't even know how to answer this. I shrug. Because I have to. I have to do this, I have to show up every. single. day. And feed and dress and engage with these little people because I don't have a choice. I have to do this work because I can't NOT do it. And some days are fabulous. Some days are beautiful and smooth, they just flow from moment to moment like my pen flows across a clean blank page in those rare moments of true inspiration. I push through so I can be open for those inspired moments.

So, in writing poems as well as in parenting, I just continue to show up. When I don't feel like it, when I'm tired, when I want to do anything but. I put one tired foot in front of the other, and keep plodding along.


Writing, Life


The past week was an exciting one for me in terms of writing. I met with UWO's writer-in-residence, Tanis Rideout, to go over some of my recent poems. She was so warm and encouraging and gave me some really helpful pointers for tightening up my work; suggestions that seemed general at the outset ("get rid of everything you don't need!") but that just clicked for me. I've been reworking everything I've written recently with these things in mind, being ruthless, looking at my poems line by line rather than just as a whole. Questioning each word, what does it do for the poem, what tone does it set, is there a better way to say this? I love the way a little nudge like that can just open up a whole new way of seeing. I'm going to submit these revised poems to another round of literary magazines, hoping to find them a home.

Over the weekend, London had its 2nd annual Words Fest, a festival celebrating all things wordy. I was able to take in a reading on Saturday morning at Museum London. It was invigorating for me to be among other writers, and especially to hear some localish authors read from newly published works. My favourite was Carolyn Smart, reading from her new collection of poems: Careen. Her reading was powerful and I picked up the book, a dramatic rendering of the story of Bonnie and Clyde.  I'm most of the way through it already and I'm really loving it.

Through all of this it's become clear to me that I want to connect with other writers, poets, creatives. I desperately need to share that part of myself with others who get it: who get the process, the struggle, the thrill of a new idea. Who can look at something I've written and offer constructive criticism. I think there is a thriving writers community here in London. Later this month I'm going to try to attend a meeting of the London Writer's Society in hopes of finding a critique group, and some day...when I can be away from babies and stay awake past 8 pm, I'd like to attend one of the poetry open mics hosted by Poetry London.

I see it as being a long road, but I feel my feet are firmly planted upon it and if you're still reading this blog, you'll get to come along for the ride. I suppose I see this space as focusing mostly on my journey as a writer. If you came here strictly for the baby stuff, and you don't wish to follow along further, then thank you for coming this far, at least.

I think I've found my writing time, though. In making the best of being up at 5 am with the littles every day, I've started slipping away for an hour around 7, once P is awake and we've both had some caffeine, back up to the bedroom where I write for an hour. I've always loved mornings best, and of all the times I've tried out in the last couple of months, this feels the easiest. I think it's something I can maintain. And having that writing time in the morning makes it easier for me to be present and engaged with the kids the rest of the day, something I've been working on, too.

I started this blog lamenting the loss of myself in motherhood, but over the last 6 months I see myself reclaiming my identity as writer, a poet, and that is inextricably tied to my recovery from PPD. A year ago, I was merely surviving, dreading having a third child, totally overwhelmed and depressed. Today I see myself as being on the brink of thriving, and I am so deeply grateful for that!

one year ago

One year ago, heading out of the Yukon.